From Distribution to Circulation Studies: Mapping Italian Films Abroad
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This article begins with the observation that, in the era of media convergence and abundance, the consumption of audio-visual media occurs in such a fragmentary and ‘informal’ way that to speak simply of ‘distribution’ is no longer sufficient. Though it remains relevant – as demonstrated by the continued centrality of the box office – this term implies a vertical, closed economic process which overshadows other viewing processes (institutional and non-). The article thus proposes adopting the term ‘circulation’, which instead would allow scholars to map out the movement of audio-visual products in various (geographic, technological) contexts, in order then to question cinema’s cultural impact in a broader and more exhaustive way. Following a theoretical reflection on circulation and the conception of national cinema, the article reflects on the case of Italy. The discussion then presents the results of a quantitative analysis of box-office data – which is justified as a fundamental starting point for reflections on circulation. The second and third parts illustrates the shortcomings of Italian cinema in particular from a comparative perspective, identifying the potential successful circulation models, and national cinemas within the European Union. The fourth examines the European markets where Italian cinema finds the most significant audiences, thus signalling its various strategic circulation patterns.
keywordsItalian cinema; national cinema; distribution; circulation; theatrical distribution.
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